Your Guide To Jazz In Miami

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By: Gino R. Campodónico

Let’s paint the town red! From speakeasy-style jazz bars to annual festivals, this is your guide to “all that jazz” in Miami. Here are all the Miami spots you can listen to live jazz at during your stay.

Best Venues

Ball & Chain

Originally established in 1935, the “World Famous Ball & Chain Bar Lounge” has been entertaining live music fans on and off for decades. The lounge reopened in 2014 with a fresh look, but its rich history and reputation as one of Miami’s best live music venues remains intact. The Little Havana landmark offers live jazz on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 pm. and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. While you’re there, do not miss the lounge’s vintage photos and promotional concert posters showcasing legendary Ball & Chain performers from the past such as Billie Holiday and Count Basie.

Live Jazz at The Betsy
Live Jazz at The Betsy

The Betsy Hotel

Ocean Drive’s The Betsy Hotel is one of the most reliable venues in South Beach for live jazz music. The swanky hotel is known for its devotion to arts and culture with ongoing programming, including the longest-running live music series on Miami Beach. Check out Latin Jazz on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. or enjoy a Jazz Brunch at the hotel’s onsite restaurant LT Steak & Seafood from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Churchill's Pub

Churchill’s Pub has been a mainstay in Miami’s live music scene for 40 years. Located near Little Haiti, the infamous no-frills dive bar is known for its punk rock shows throughout the week, but jazz fans looking for a unique experience are encouraged to check out Churchill’s “Miami Jazz Jam” on Monday nights. The evening begins around 9:00 p.m. with performances taking place inside the pub’s indoor stage featuring local bands such as Fernando Ulibarri Group and The Mike Wood Trio. Insider tip: Don’t miss the “Theatre de Underground” out back which features an open mic vibe for poets, comedians, musicians and more.

Historic Hampton House

An iconic U.S. segregation-era motel and lounge, the Historic Hampton House, located in the Brownsville neighborhood of Miami (near Liberty City), is a great venue for live music and monthly jazz performances. On the third Friday of each month, from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m., enjoy the sultry sounds of "Jazz in the House", featuring the Instant Attraction Band II, along with various artists. Through the years, the Historic Hampton House has been visited by some of the most influential entertainers and figureheads in modern history, including Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Cannonball Adderley, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Althea Gibson, and many more.

The Corner

Tuesday nights at The Corner in Downtown Miami mean live jazz. Not only did Miami New Times name “Downtown Jazz at The Corner” as Miami’s Best Jazz Night in its coveted “Best of Miami” issue a few years ago, the popular newspaper also highlighted the amazing cocktails served at this cozy New Orleans-style bar. Good music and drinks? Sounds like a perfect recipe for a great night out. And if you’re a fan of experiencing cities as a local, then prepare to make some new friends because this late-night haunt has been favored by hip locals since it opened. The jazz sets begin around 10:00 p.m. and goes until late.


Le Chat Noir

Also in Downtown Miami and with a distinct ambiance which could be described as a hybrid between a Parisian lounge and a gritty New York City club, Le Chat Noir offers music lovers a cozy haven for live jazz music every night of the week. Performances take place inside the venue’s cellar which carries affordable bottles of wine along with paninis and cheese and charcuterie boards. Gather a group of friends or go on a romantic date to experience one of Miami’s most treasured spots to catch live music.

Lagniappe House

The beauty of Lagniappe, a New Orleans-style bar located in Midtown Miami, near the Design District, is that there’s live music every night starting at 9:00 p.m. and it usually skews towards jazz. Live music acts are updated often, so be sure to check out the bar’s music schedule to see who’s up next. Lagniappe boasts a large wine and beer menu along with a selection of small plates to enjoy while you listen to bands in its charming outdoor terrace.

Jazz at MOCA

If you’re a jazz enthusiast, be sure to take advantage of free outdoor concerts (rain or shine) held the last Friday of every month at 8:00 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami. Enhance your evening with a little art by visiting the MOCA galleries which are open by donation from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

Annual Jazz Festivals

Jazz Roots – Seasonal

The popular Jazz Roots performance series at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County presents several shows throughout the year in its acoustically superb Knight Concert Hall in Downtown Miami. The concerts bring together jazz legends from around the globe, with a mix of shows that honor the jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, with others that explore jazz fusion, such as British, Cuban and Latin jazz.

Dee Dee Bridgewater Quartet at South Beach Jazz Festival
Dee Dee Bridgewater Quartet at South Beach Jazz Festival

South Beach Jazz Festival – January

A jazz festival unlike any other, the South Beach Jazz Festival features talented musicians with disabilities. The festival features open-air performances by local ensembles on the Lincoln Road promenade and other venues across Miami Beach, with most being free and open the public. Showcasing a variety of jazz stylings including classical, Latin and New Orleans, most acts performing in the festival include at least one person with a disability.

Miami International Jazz Festival – February

Taking place at the intimate Manuel Artime Theater in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, the Miami International Jazz Festival showcases a variety of eclectic jazz performers that span the unique sounds of the jazz genre.

Jazz In The Gardens
Jazz in the Gardens

Jazz in the Gardens – March

Heralded as one of the best jazz festivals in North America for over a decade, Jazz in the Gardens takes place annually at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. The festival highlights both local and international musicians in jazz, R&B, gospel and soul, including the likes of Lionel Richie, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, Smokey Robinson and Brandy. The festival also boasts a marketplace dedicated to artwork, jewelry and fashion, as well as delicious Caribbean food.

Jazz Appreciation Month – April

Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) was created by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. to recognize the significant contribution that jazz music has made to society. Miami joins the celebration annually with panel discussions, performances and special events throughout the city. The Betsy South Beach Hotel and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami anchor the celebrations with unique events that explore jazz, funk, R&B, Latin and world music jazz.

Miami Downtown Jazz Festival – April

The Miami Downtown Jazz Festival is a five-day celebration of jazz and jazz-inspired sounds from Miami and beyond, including a cornucopia of musical styles from Latin jazz to blues, funk and even a touch of steel pan. The festival is focused on free live performances at the Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown and Tina Hills Pavilion in Downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park.

Miami Smooth Jazz Festival – November

A jazz festival at a zoo? Only in Miami! The Miami Smooth Jazz Festival takes place on the grounds of Zoo Miami in Southwest Miami Dade County, the largest zoo in Florida. Featuring top musical talent in jazz, R&B, Latin jazz and fusion, the festival also includes unique vendors, exhibitions, a showcase of local food vendors and more.

Sunny Isles Beach Jazz Fest
Sunny Isles Beach Jazz Fest

Sunny Isles Beach Jazz Fest – November

In Sunny Isles Beach, The Sunny Isles Beach Jazz Fest is a one-night only event which takes place under the stars at Gateway Park. Past performers include The Spinners and Cornell Gunter’s Coasters featuring Edwin Cooke and Lourdes Valentin. It’s a highly anticipated celebration for true lovers of jazz music.

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